The Best of “Thirty, Nine”

“This is about things we have lost. This is about you who we’ll be losing. This is about the things that won’t come back. This is about our moments.” 

This line from the last episode of Thirty, Nine sums up what the series is all about. A story about losing someone precious and entering a new decade of your life without them. The premise was really melodramatic from the start despite the light moments inserted in between. This could have been a great tearjerker drama if not for the elements they chose to use that didn’t suit my preference. Despite those, there are still some things that I genuinely enjoyed about Thirty, Nine:

Samseong-dong, Hyochang-dong, Gocheok-dong

Looking back on its premiere week, I already announced that I would probably stay watching this series because of these three women: Cha Mi-jo (Son Ye-jin), Jeong Chan-young (Jeon Mi-do), and Jang Joo-hee (Kim Ji-hyun). Their friendship stood the test of time and Chan-young’s illness was the worst they probably encountered. I would have loved it if the story stayed focused on their friendship and how they’d deal with their biggest predicament yet. But the series would oftentimes sway to other things as if it has an identity crisis of what story it really is. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed watching the bond between these three women who came from three different neighborhoods and found solace with each other in the most unlikely of situations. From finding Mi-jo’s mom to breaking into a cake shop, they stuck with each other through thick and thin. 

Cha Sisters

Aside from her friends, the central heroine of this series, Mi-jo, also has Cha Mi-hyun (Kang Mal-geum) in her support group. Mi-hyun would not hesitate to come to a police station in a silly garb just to protect her precious younger sister. Her scenes with Mi-jo is really comforting especially because we know Mi-jo has anxiety problems. Mi-hyun was one who offered a home to Mi-jo and she stayed as her “home” for years even when they got older. Kang Mal-geum was really effective in this role so I wasn’t at all surprised she bagged a Baeksang nomination for this. 

Mi-jo and Seon-u

As I’ve said earlier, I oftentimes felt the series was having an identity crisis. But even though the narration style is not my cup of tea, the romance between Mi-jo and Kim Seon-u (Yeon Woo-jin) still gave me some good swoony moments. They developed from an insta-love to a romance that would stay in bloom even with external factors affecting them. And I like it very much that Seon-u didn’t have an issue when Mi-jo prioritizing her friends over him. 

The Best Three Actress

The showrunners could have utilized the actresses with better script and storytelling but these three actresses did the best with the characters they were given. There’s no doubt that Mi-jo was the central character in this series and Son Ye-jin aptly claimed that spot with her effortless portrayal of Mi-jo. She exuded an elegant and refined touch to Mi-jo similar to Sergey Rachmaninoff’s piano pieces that her character likes. But at the same time, she could go rogue and tough when she is with her friends.

Meanwhile, Jeon Mi-do really went from playing a doctor to playing a patient. Portraying a terminally-ill character was a tough one to pull off but Mi-do did really well. I could feel her pain and fear in her scenes. The only thing I really couldn’t empathize with her is Chan-young’s decisions when it comes to heart matters. Other than that, Chan-young was a character Mi-do perfectly transformed into.

Among these three, Kim Ji-hyun had lesser screen time but she shined in her scenes anyway. She made Joo-hee the most relatable among all the characters in this series. Her issues might have been lighter as compared to her friends but that didn’t stop me from cheering for her character. The thing I like the most about Ji-hyun’s portrayal is that she made Joo-hee look strong without adapting the tomboyish appeal Chan-young has or the rich elegance of Mi-jo. She stayed true to Joo-hee’s simplicity, from her drama-watching hobbies to her simple life choices.

>>First Impression: Thirty, Nine

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